Employee stress and the implication of high-power distance culture: empirical evidence from Nigeria’s employment terrain

Emeka Oruh, Chianu Dibia

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    Purpose – This paper explores the link between employee stress and the high-power distance (HPD) culture in Nigeria. The study context is the banking and manufacturing sectors in Nigeria, which have a history of exploitation, unconducive work environments to productivity, work-life imbalance, work overload, burnout, and employee stress.

    Design/methodology/approach – Using a qualitative, interpretive methodology, this article adopts a thematic analysis of data drawn from semi-structured interviews with 24 managerial and non-managerial workers to explore the process by which Nigerian manufacturing and banking sectors’ work (mal)practices go unchallenged, thereby triggering and exacerbating employees’ stress levels.

    Findings – The study found that the HPD culture promotes a servant-master relationship type, making it impossible for employees to challenge employers on issues relating to stressors such as work overload, unconducive work environments, work-life imbalance, and burnout, thereby exacerbating their stress levels in a country in which stress has become a way of life.

    – Research on the relationship between employee stress and HPD culture is relatively underdeveloped. This article sheds light on issues associated with stressors in Nigeria’s human resource management (HRM) and employment relations practices. The link between the inability of employees to challenge these stressors (which are consequences of an HPD culture) and increased employee stress has substantial implications for employment and work-related policies and practices in general. The study is constrained by the limited sample size, which inhibits the generalisation of its findings.

    Originality/value –The article adds to the scarcity of studies underscoring the relationship between high-power distance and the inability of employees to challenge work-related stressors as a predictor of employee stress and a mediator between workplace practices and employee stress, particularly in the emerging economies
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages20
    JournalEmployee Relations
    Early online date26 Jun 2020
    Publication statusEarly online - 26 Jun 2020


    • Workplace practices
    • employee stress
    • high power distance (HPD) culture
    • Nigeria


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